There are certainly challenges as a single homeowner. Throw “female” into and you’ve got the makings of a “Lucy Episode.” (I can say that being female; you can‘t.)
At times during one’s homeownership, you have to call in “contractors” to do work you have no idea how to do or have no business doing. Changing a light bulb is one of those things you can do (uh, not always…more on that later). Building an addition is something you probably should not handle on your own unless you own a really swell toolbox.
First things first. Find someone to do the work. Amazingly, people advertise to do everything from putting in patios to digging a moat. Their ads sparkle with their accomplishments and their low prices. So you call them. They say they’ll be there on a certain date and time.
This is where the fun begins and this is the “amazing” part. These people pay money to put ads in the paper and on the internet but they don’t show up. You wait. They still don’t show up. And you wait some more. No show. You check your calendar and are sure you have the right date. But maybe you wrote down the wrong time. So you wait some more. You’ve spent all day waiting. You call. You leave messages. You’ve taken your last vacation day from work to wait.
This happens if it’s a plumber, an electrician, a home builder, a date (wait, that’s another subject). So why do they advertise if they have no intention of doing the work? Is this fun for them? To say they’ll come over and don’t? Is it kind of a “gotcha” moment? Are they sitting at home saying, “Ha, ha, stupid lady, she really thought I’d show up. What an idiot!”
I wonder if they are thinking “the poor female” route. Do they assume because I’m single and female, I can’t possibly afford their service and it will be a waste of their time?
With that in mind, on those rare occasions when someone does show up to give me a quote, I run into the house and get dressed to the hilt. No matter it’s July. I pull out the mink coat, dangling diamond earrings and tiara. I print my W2. I show references. I show them the balance in my checkbook. I whip up some Lobster Newburg and chill Dom Perignon in a silver monogrammed bucket. I don’t smoke but I carry a cigarette holder like I’m Elizabeth Taylor. I speak with a British accent, though I’m from Buffalo. I do whatever it takes to assure said contractor I’ll pay their bill. Really, I will. Promise!
The rule of thumb has been to get three quotes. This is a fairy tale of sorts. In order to get three quotes, that means you have to have three people actually come over. Duh. That’s never going to happen. So, if you call five contractors, and one comes over, you are on cloud nine. Hallelujah! You don’t care what they quote.
“Sure, I’ll pay $5000 for you to clean the gutters on my 800 square foot house.” “Sure, $10,000 sounds fair to plant a couple of shrubs.” You really are at their mercy and they know it.
There are things you as a homeowner can do on your own- sometimes. Changing a light bulb is one of them as previously mentioned. It sounds easy but have you ever tried to change one of those recessed bulbs? My hands are tiny; yet I cant get them into the recess in order to change the bulb. I tried with all my might to no avail so I called an electrician.
Miraculously, he showed up- probably because he wanted to see how someone could be so lame as to not be able to change a light bulb. I showed him how I tried and tried, squeezing my small hands and fingers around the bulb itself with no luck.
Looking at me like I had three heads, he calmly and with just a slight snicker, removed the ring around the bulb exposing a lot more room in which to remove the bulb. I apologized, obviously feeling stupid. He was kind enough to say it was no big deal and as he left, placed a bill for $100 on my kitchen table.